Professor Folds Paper to Make Art and Science

Feb 1, 2017

A University of Michigan professor has come to Florida Gulf Coast University to showcase his work in the third annual Crossroads: Art and Science Residency and Exhibition. His exhibition, “Telemetry,” combines the subjects through black-and-white pieces he creates by folding paper.

Matthew Shlian’s work has been featured by a variety of outlets — from Sesame Street to Apple — as an example of the newly coined STEAM program, which includes art in science, technology, engineering and math.

Shlian recently said on Gulf Coast Live that he did not initially anticipate such a crossover in his work.

“I went to school for ceramics and quickly realized I wanted to do everything else but ceramics,” Shlian said. “My background is in paper engineering rather than origami, and that’s the studying of pop-up books and making pop-up books. So, there are some kinetic elements to my work as well. My work really situates itself between art and science.”

Shlian is colorblind, and though he says he is not “chromophobic,” which means anti-color, his pieces focus on the use of shadow and light rather than hues, which are rarely seen in his work.   

Credit Matthew Smith

That fact eventually led to Shlian working with the University of Michigan to apply his paper engineering techniques to produce better solar cells.

Shlian’s work can be seen — and he says touched — at Bower School of Music and the Arts art galleries at FGCU through March 2.